Guelph program 'recycles' old cellphones by giving them to those in need

The Guelph Tool Library is looking for unwanted and unused cell phones to give to people in need through organizations like Chalmers Community Services Centre and Lakeside Hope House.

Guelph Tool Library will collect and repair unwanted cell phones through their repair cafes

A new program out of the Guelph Tool Library is looking for those unwanted cell phones laying around in your drawers. And that's because they're going to be giving those cell phones to people in need. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

The Guelph Tool Library wants to fix up old, unwanted cell phones and give them to people in need.

The new program, named Good Call, is a partnership between the tool library, Chalmers Community Services Centre and Lakeside Hope House. 

"We're good at fixing things 'cause that's what we do at our repair cafes and that's what we encourage people to do at the Guelph Tool Library. So we thought, 'Hey, let's put those two together," said John Dennis, a coordinator with the program. 

Starting in December, people can donate their unwanted cell phones at various locations in Guelph, including the Planet Bean coffeehouse, the 10C Shared Space, the Guelph Tool Library and three local high schools.    

Dennis says volunteers with expertise in cell phones will fix them up at the repair cafes. 

"The expectation when someone gives us their phone is they wipe their data and that they remove any passwords on them," said Dennis, adding that people can find instructions on how to do this at  

"We just want an empty phone with the charger." 

The 'lifeline' for people on low-income 

Bob Moore, an intake worker at the Lakeside Hope House, says having a cell phone is crucial for those living on low incomes.  

"Cell phones are ... the lifeline in so many ways. For people living in poverty, that might be the last thing that they can afford," he said. 

Moore said a cell phone can help someone access employment, housing and government programs. 

"Often they'll get themselves a web-based phone number, so they can text back and forth to their friends, or text to possible employers or possible landlords, so it really opens up the possibilities for them," he said.

He also says they would use the free wifi at places like the Hope House, public libraries and the Ontario Works office. 

"There's a lot of places people can go to use their phones without having to pay for a plan," said Moore.